The Dedaena Bar in central Tbilisi has been attacked on social media and Google, with the bar’s page hacked, as the organisation imposed a “visa” for Russian guests, which meant that the visitors must first fill in a special form and confirm that they had never voted for Russian President Vladimir Putin, condemned Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine and recognised the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine.
The founder of the bar, Data Lapauri, said that the questionnaire also encouraged Russian citizens to “understand that they are in a foreign country, to talk to the bar personnel in Georgian or English, and not to engage in political discussions when under the influence of alcohol”.
Lapauri suggested that the questionnaire had been in operation for several months, but it seemed to have caught the attention of Putin's government and pro-war supporters in recent days.
The bar administration wrote on its Facebook account on August 2 that there were attempts to lower the bar's ranking on Google.
"Russians are unhappy that they cannot enter the native bar without a visa, and the staff refuses to speak to them in Russian," the bar's administration wrote.
Lapauri said that after this move, the negative campaign towards the bar became even stronger and the facility was given low ratings in Google in order to lower its ranking and many negative comments were written on the bar’s Instagram page, many of which contained the slogan "Glory to Russia!", along with nationalist, pro-occupation messages and Russian flags.
"About 5,000 negative comments and reviews were written on Google, probably over 1,000 on Instagram," Lapauri noted,adding that as a result of the cyber attack, the website of the bar was also disabled, which was later restored, although the attack still continued.
Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria,opposition politicians and people came to the bar later yesterday to express their support.
Transparency International Georgia said in its survey released earlier this week that 240,000 Russian citizens have arrived in Georgia over the past seven months.
The Lelo for Georgia opposition party called on the government to impose visa requirements for Russian and Belarussian citizens. However, the Georgian Dream authorities claimed that the calls aimed “to drag Georgia into Russia’s war in Ukraine '' and would have a negative impact on domestic tourism.